My Fitness Journey (2 Stone To Go!)

Fitness J

My fitness journey began with excuses this year and I steadily go worse with my diet as the year went on, I was buying five £1 bags of chocolate almost every day and I ate a lot of pasta. I went up to a hefty 13 stone and I just felt sluggish and ill all of the time, my stay in Hong Kong was more or less ruined because I was constantly self conscious about my body. It was only very recently that I decided to put that behind me and fight for a fitter and healthier me, I know that I shouldn’t have made excuses but I’m pleased that I’m going for it now. I’m going to show you the photo that made me finally decide to do something about my lifestyle, it’s awful and I feel sick looking at myself in that state but it shows the weight that I was at. It’s from my trip to Madame Tussauds in Hong Kong so excuse the Queen!

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Okay, so I wasn’t morbidly obese but I was uncomfortable and too heavy for my 5″4 frame. Since then it has been difficult to look at photos of myself without feeling upset and I’m pleased that I’m getting through it and making the effort that I should have put in months ago. In Hong Kong I constantly put it off until I got home and then when I was back in the country I had a hard time and used it as an excuse. I’m currently on a strict diet plan and I’m either at the gym or doing home workouts four days per week, I’m already feeling more ‘me’ and more healthy so it seems to be working. Luckily I have some really supportive friends boosting me up right now and I have goals. I would like to be at 10 stone as soon as possible, personally I would prefer to be a little under that but I don’t want to take weight loss too far so I’m going to play it by ear.

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Above is the picture I took most recently of my body to show how far I have come already in my lifestyle change. I plan to keep you all updated on my progress so be patient with me whilst I’m plodding along, I’m currently 18 days into this regime and I’m feeling really positive about both my body and the changes that I’m making. Please get in touch if you’re going through your own journey with fitness, I would love to talk to more people who are struggling with weight issues.

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Why York Should Be On Your UK Travel List

Travel York

Since we have had yet another taste of summer today I feel like it’s the perfect time to write about a place that perfectly compliments hot weather. It’s almost as charming as Whitby and just as picturesque, I love the fact that it’s so tourist orientated. York is full of history; war museums, art museums and my favourite, York’s Chocolate Story which is an experience tour about the history of confectionery in York. You can actually sample chocolate from key parts of chocolate history and make your own chocolate lolly so what’s not to like? Aside from the choc museum, I love the duplicity of York and how it can be both a nerdy haven and a cool hangout place, it just makes it so much more worth the train fare. I don’t like places that I have to go for one specific thing because I like to make a day out of a trip like that.

York Street View

I’m not going to lie, I love all of the old fashioned sweet shops too. So far all I seem to have talked about is sweets but don’t worry, York isn’t all sweets and chocolate! Another thing that I adore about York is the vintage shops and antiquing spots and, let me tell you, there’s some pretty damn amazing stuff on show in them! I particularly love 40’s fashion and seeing it among all of the other fashion from different eras was something that I was fascinated by. If I could, I would totally dress like I lived in the 1940’s – fashion trends be damned.

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Next up on my ‘THINGS THAT I LOVE’ rant is the Hebden Tea shop, I have been going through a loose leaf tea phase and for the most part I have been ordering online. I enjoy the process and I try to test out as many combinations as possible, that’s exactly why I couldn’t just pass this shop. I appreciated how I could smell the tea before I bought it and hear from the seller what was best for what and which tastes would suit my purpose. I can’t for the life of me remember the names of the staff but they were more than helpful and even recommended a few of my purchases. There’s just so many to choose from and I did get really excited about going in there. I personally recommend that you check the place out if you’re on a diet and want to find an alternative to green tea.

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As you can see, York is a culturally rich and intrinsically quirky place that makes the perfect destination a summers day. Just picture walking down the cobbles with a fresh homemade ice cream with the sun shining in the background… I think I’m ready to revisit already! It works well as a day out if you have kids or if you’re looking for something to do on a date or even if you just simply want a day out. These are my favourite things about York and why I think it’s well worth a visit, please leave your opinion if you have been there or let me know if you actually check these things out. I hope you love going there as much as I do!

Relaxation & Reflection

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Some of you might have noticed that I’ve just returned from a little break from the online world, on that note, I would like to talk about why it’s important to have a little ‘me time’ and to know when to take a step back from everything. Whilst I only restarted my blog recently, as anyone with an online presence will know, social media and blogging can be all consuming and stressful at times. Pressure to come up with new and original content can tough so sometimes it’s best to just not force something and then you won’t come up with rubbish that you don’t believe in. Personally, I like to dip in and out of my writing to try and stave off the writers block.

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In my time away I have rejoined the gym, taken part in some classes, started walking a friends dog and rediscovered my love of loose leaf tea. My favoutite has to be butterfly pea tea at the moment which is something that I found out about in Hong Kong when I went to Share Tea and tried one of their slush type ice tea drinks. Everything about loose leaf tea just gives me relaxation vibes; the mixing, the brewing and the time out that I take to drink it – also, it’s way healthier than my usual coffee overdose! Anyway, the point that I wanted to make is that I felt like my inspiration was going stale and I needed to diversify my life again as I had been solidly working to a schedule that left no room for a social life.

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When I was in my teens I didn’t really consider mental health as a factor that needed to considered in life and I was relatively ignorant when it came to talking about how I felt – unless I had a few rum and lemonades! Taking care of myself and personal improvement is something that comes naturally to me now and I know when it’s time to shut off and step back. As someone who is easily frustrated and overwhelmed, I find that it’s important to know what to look out for when I feel like I’m going to crash. In the past I’ve been someone who bottles things up and just lets everything out in one foul swoop. Hence why a digital detox is occasionally needed, constantly working towards a public image is just draining and that’s how I usually end up getting worked up.

I would love to know what helps my lovely readers relax, I hope that I’ve articulated the way that I feel in a way that you can all relate to. Despite my love of writing and blogging, I do struggle to talk about what’s going on in my head on a more personal level. Thank you so much for taking the time to take a read of my blog! I hope to hear from a few of you soon.

A Piece Of My Heart Will Always Be In… Whitby

Whitby

In light of this gorgeous weather we’ve been having I would like to write a little about my most recent trip to Whitby and why it’s my favourite place in the UK. My dad’s side of the family used to go on caravan holidays there and so he has always had a love of Whitby and it’s something that he kind of instilled into me too. I’ve went through a few different vampire phases in my time and where better to start than in Whitby the inspiratiop for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The Gothic architecture is present in the Abbey and also in the heart of the seaside town, recently I went there with my brothers girlfriend and my sister and it definitely reminded my I adore the place.

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The day that we went was not chosen for the weather but we certainly hit on lucky, the skies were clear and it was the perfect ice cream weather. Heather, the aforementioned brothers girlfriend, had not been to Whitby since she was about three so I took it up on myself to be a tour guide. We visited the Abbey, the Whale Bones, the Dracula Experience and I showed her my favourite shops for souvenirs and trinkets. I think I did a pretty good job considering the fact that I’m usually a bit of a clueless idiot when it comes to directions!

Seafront shops

As you can see, Whitby is full of character and for me it’s like going home after a long day at work. Honestly, everyone there is really friendly and you just can’t be miserable in Whitby – even the goths look happy! My usual haunt for lunch is The Dolphin though that has been up and down over the years due to management changes, this time around however was lovely. I ordered a side and a starter rather than a full meal but it I enjoyed both of my choices.

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I have so many amazing memories of Whitby throughout my childhood up to now and for that reason I feel like it’s a part of me that I always want to return to. Please share some memories of your own or tell me about a place that holds a space in your heart, just let me know in the comments!

Hair Update: Blue, Purple & The Bizarre

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So since my last update, I was left with patchy and uneven hair as a result of a less than successful dye from Arctic Fox. Since then I have used two different dyes and a diluted version with conditioner. As the dyes I use are only semi-permanent, I haven’t really had any damage that I can see but I have had issues with colour bleeding EVERYWHERE. I’m talking bed sheets, scarves, tops, coats… Blue and purple is everything right now. Moving on… So after my original appointment I was disappointed by how much my colour faded, I love shocking people with my funky hair so I don’t want to have dull hair anymore.

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After I used Poseidon by Arctic Fox, I moved on to Manic Panic but I used conditioner mixed with their shade Shocking Blue. I did the roots first and left them to soak up the dye before adding it to the ends, that gave me the ombre style as shown in the picture above. I loved the colouring that I had after doing this and it was certainly a step up from the mess that the first Arctic Fox colour left my hair. Manic Panic did not smell as nice but it did have a better result and I was much happier with how I looked.

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The next image shows how my hair with a full coverage of the Shocking Blue without conditioner to dilute the colour. It felt less nourished but I preferred the colour of this one. I didn’t get a great deal of fading but the shade did change slightly and the brightness faded the roots. Shocking Blue gave me the closest colour to what I was aiming for, I was thinking Katy Perry in the Wide Awake music video and I think I got fairly close. It could have been a little bolder but it fit my inspiration a little closer than I was expecting.

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After my blog post about my first Arctic Fox disaster, their customer support team sent me a Purple Rain dye to try out. Apparently certain colours pick up better on your hair depending on texture and hair history. The picture is definitely not true to life, it’s more like that dark gothic purple that we all wore in the noughties. I’ve had some great feedback about this latest shade but blue is where my heart is and I fully plan on going blue once again.

What On Earth Is Chondromalacia Patellae?!

Chondromalacia

I’m not sure if this kind of post is going to be too popular but as it’s about something that a lot of people struggle with, I thought it might be helpful to share my experience so far. I’ve read plenty of posts about injury and disability out of curiosity but I never thought that I would face my own struggles.

For around 6 months I’ve had pain in both of my knees (though the right one has been worse) and I’ve put off going to the doctors. I’m 22 and I shouldn’t be having bother with my knees, furthermore, I’m not exactly into high impact exercises anyway so I wasn’t entirely sure what could be wrong. When I was in Hong Kong my knees felt their weakest, even going down the steps in my grans boat was a struggle and walking around all day made it feel as though everything was tightening up. I’m fairly sure that the heat didn’t do them any favours but when your gran is getting down flights of stairs quicker than yourself, it makes you aware that you need to tread carefully!

Since I work in a shop where I need to climb about and lift things, I decided to make the call and get an appointment so I could find out what was going on. Once in the doctors office, it was made pretty obvious what my problem was from about the first two minutes. We tested out my mobility to find out which angles hurt the most and figured out that my knees were worse when bent towards the inside of my leg. The diagnosis is that I have Chondromalacia Patellae, a weakening or softening of the cartilage behind my kneecaps. As I previously said, my right knee is worse so I’ve put a lot of pressure on my left one. The treatment that I will be getting is a course of physio as a preliminary action but if there’s no improvement, I’ll keep you all updated.

The NHS has a helpful page about cartilage damage if anyone wants a bit more information, I know that mine is more due to “gradual wear and tear” than a sports injury because I have taken things easy for quite some time. I want to get back into going to the gym and I’m looking forward to hopefully joining an Insanity class once physio has done its job.

Skin Stories: Bacne And Beyond

 

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As part of the next chapter of the Skin Stories series, it is important to be inclusive of the fact that skin issues don’t just occur on the face. For many, acne occurs on both the back and the chest rather than their face. I will once again start with a disclaimer and say that I’m not a dermatologist, I’m just going off what I’ve been told and the information that I have culminated. I am taking information about having this skin problem from someone who has asked to remain anonymous but I know them in real life and I’m also doing my own little side research. I will, however say that my featured subject is a boy who has struggled with acne on his back from his mid to late teens.

The main cause for acne on the back is sweat and our assumption is that the person that I interviewed suffered as a result of a heavy gym routine. Sebaceous glands, which I talked about in the first Skin Stories post, contain excess oil but are commonly found on the back and chest so when these glands become clogged – acne appears. Doctors tend to prescribe different treatments depending on the level that the bacne appears and the requirements of the patient. Antibiotics such as Minocycline, Tetracycline, Doxycycline and Crythromycin are usually a first move in the right direction to reduce the inflammation of the acne. My anonymous source took the Minocycline and whilst they initially worked for him (not that it completely cleared up the acne but it did improve), as soon as he was taken off them the acne came back with a vengence.

The other tablets that can be recommended by doctors are Accutance or Roaccutane which has been known to be successful but it has been linked as a possible cause of depression. I think that it’s one of those treatments that are given to people at the top of the scale but nevertheless the decision to take up these tablets should not be taken lightly, especially if you already struggle with your mental health.

Retinoids are also a common ‘cure’ for acne but it’s not the most effective option for anywhere other than the face because unless you have time for it to really sink in it’s going to be rubbed off. The same goes for Benzoyl Peroxide which is a topical treatment but it’s main drawback is that it can bleach out whatever material that it touches like clothes or bedsheets.

The more extreme cases call for acne lasers or chemical peels and whilst these aren’t the most pleasant of the treatments but they are said to reduce scarring as well as the issue of acne itself. The idea of getting a chemical peel doesn’t sound particularly pleasant to me, I’ve seen a few YouTube videos where people have been left with gunky or infected results and I’m not eager to try it for any reason. Not that I have acne myself but I can understand why it is classed as a harsh treatment. As for the lasers, they’re never going to be pleasant either but for some, the reality of acne scars is a massive hit on confidence.

This leads me to the next ‘treatment’ of sorts, this is the one that my anonymous feature has said works the best. He said that by taking his shirt off and exposing his acne to the sunlight for a while in the summer, his acne got better. Furthermore, when he went on holiday his acne was barely in existence. Of course, you could use the sunbeds but that can also be bad for your skin in another way but it’s six and two threes. His girlfriend says that the final thing that stopped his skin issue from returning was through her usage of pimple tools, the little ones with loops on the end and s good sacylic acid.

I hope this post has either been relatable or given you a few options for your own acne no matter where it is on your body. The next post in my Skin Stories series will feature the fantastic Vikki of Cuteek about her melasma so keep your eyes peeled for that!

My Top Tips For Travelling On A Budget

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To travel on a budget, research is a MUST. Get in with the culture of the country, navigate your destination like a local and pack like a pro. Keep reading to find out my top tips for travelling with a minimal cost, this post is a slightly more practical one!

  • Don’t travel at peak times, school holidays are always the busiest times of the year and unfortunately this means that the price sky rockets also.
  • Try not to choose a direct flight if you’re flying long haul, putting up with a few stopovers is a small price to pay in comparison with a direct flight. Similarly, check out your closest airport because sometimes there’s a closer place to fly from that doesn’t have the same expenditure as the main international airports.

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  • Avoid extra baggage costs by putting together a capsule wardrobe, in most countries you can probably buy budget clothing if you fancy a change whilst you’re abroad but you might as well save your space for the inbound flight.
  • Does your destination have a transport discount system? For example, in Hong Kong there’s an Oyster card which is used as a pay-as-you-go travel ticket (with a percentage off the total cost) that can also be used to buy groceries. Use Google to your advantage and find out what is available.
  • Check out the information desks in the airport for tour packages and cheaper tickets to theme parks or other attractions. Some of these packages could include freebies as well as the initial discount so it’s always worth a look upon arrival.
  • Is there an app for it? We have Groupon and Wowcher, the chances are that your destination will have a discount app to cut certain costs throughout your trip.

So there are my top tips for a cheaper holiday, if you have any tips of your own feel free to let me in the comments below! I’m always looking for ways to make my trip more economical so it would be much appreciated.

How I Perceive Body Image & My Current Weight Struggles

Body Image

Body image is a tricky subject for most people and I’m not just talking about women, men have their struggles too. Personally, I feel like there’s too much pressure on people to either be slim or curvy in a sexy way and for those of us that fall into the middle bracket it’s difficult to find inspiration and feel confident about our bodies. The plus size industry is the most successful that it’s ever been and on the other hand, the petite models are pushing back.

For most this is empowering because these strong and confident women are promoting body confidence but I haven’t seen anyone my shape make it as a model. Don’t get me wrong, I love that everyone is so positive about body diversity right now but I do believe that the middle bracket is severely underrepresented. I think that right now is the perfect time for a bit MORE diversity and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the developing industry. These are exciting times for female empowerment and whilst I’m feeling low myself right now, I’m hoping to work on this throughout the rest of 2018.

Currently I’m really struggling on that front because I’m the biggest I’ve ever been and I refuse to buy the dreaded next size up for my jeans. I feel like to buy the next size would be to give up on my own health and settle into this lazy kind of lifestyle. When I was 14 I had issues with mean comments at school, for the most part I brushed them off but I was always self conscious about my thighs. I remember one guy at school, who I will always remember, said that I had legs like tree trunks. It really played on my mind and it increased my insecurity, it’s difficult to feel confident when something like that is always in the back of my mind.

As I’ve put on so much weight recently, this is all being dredged back up and my self-esteem isn’t what it used to be. I’m putting it down to stress because I’m a stress snacker and I know that I haven’t been the best with my eating habits. I’m trying to get back on track but it’s going to take some time; my first step is to eat more healthily but I’m looking into joining the gym again. I know that I enjoy going to the gym and joining classes but it just takes me some time to actually get into the habit of going.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on body image if you don’t mind sharing them with me in the comments, I don’t know if this sort of post will be particularly well received but I wanted to add my two cents to this subject!

February Roundup

February

When I returned from Hong Kong last month I felt really unsettled and ultimately I quit uni, my main goal was to get back into blogging and to do what I want to do for once. In the first month of my rebranding I have made some big decisions in my life and started quite a few projects to help me on my way. This post is essentially my roundup of life over February and the struggles of a lower level blogger trying to fight her way back into the community.

Whilst I would love to say that I have been welcomed back with opened arms, a great deal of people that I talked to on a daily basis when I did this the first time have blocked me out and ignored me. It’s not all bad though, I have met some of the nicest people online and I feel like I have a little Twitter support system now. Social media and blogging seems to be a lot more toxic than it used to be; this month we’ve had copying scandals, bullies harassing bloggers and a whole lot of general bitchyness. I’m so sick of subtext right now!

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On a more positive note, I want to mention some of the things that I’ve been loving over the course of this month. I’m going to start with the Makeup Revolution Setting Spray (Pro Fix Oil Control) as a star buy. I find it to be much better than the last one that I bought from Urban Decay which was about triple the price. I use it before my foundation as a base rather than a top coat for the skin, I’ve recently been using the Max Factor Healthy Skin Harmony Foundation in their lightest shade and the two products are a perfect match. With just a few sprays before I apply my foundation, the setting spray keeps oily skin at bay and makes makeup stay for quite a bit longer than usual.

Stepping away from makeup, I want to talk about how I’ve been keeping myself occupied now that I’m working part time! I have been listening to music quite a bit recently and I was pleasantly surprised by 5SOS and their new song Want You Back. It’s not entirely different to their previous work but I find it to be easy listening, I wish I could say that I don’t have the music taste of a 14 year old! YouTube, for me anyway, has had better content than that of Netflix recently and I’ve been taking a lot of influence from bloggers such as Zoe London, Sophie Hannah and Emily of Mermaid Gossip. I think they’ve upped their game substantially and all three of them a going from strength to strength.

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As you can see, it’s been snowing pretty heavily over here as I live in the North and we have been hit by the “beast from the east” and everyone is still getting over the flu. I have sworn by drinking lemon and ginger tea, it soothes the throat and tastes divine. I’m just pleased that I’ve managed to cut down on caffeine recently because I’ve been saying that I will since last year!

Thank you so much for reading up on my roundup of February, it’s not exactly an exciting read but I just wanted to share with you all the  start of my blogging journey with this site.

My personal blog highlights: